OAKLAND — It was a season and one special-teams coach ago when punt protection last was an issue for the Washington Redskins.
The issue resurfaced Sunday, when the Oakland Raiders blocked a punt and recovered the ball for a touchdown on their way to an early 14-0 lead.
“We had somebody miss an assignment,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “We worked on it this week. They’ve done a great job rushing …the punter. We knew we were gonna get some speed there, rushing the punter. They did exactly what we thought they’d do. But they out-executed us. We came back and worked extremely hard to make sure it didn’t happen again. But you could see that’s one of the more talented punt-rushing teams we’ll face.”
The block came when the Raiders’ Rashad Jennings lined up on the outside, to the far right of the Raiders’ punt-rushing formation, with Jeremy Stewart next to him. Stewart cut to the outside while Jennings moved inside, got past the Redskins’ Perry Riley Jr. unblocked and smothered Sav Rocca’s punt attempt. Stewart grabbed the loose ball in the end zone for the touchdown.
It was a difficult day for first-year Redskins special teams coach Keith Burns. The Raiders also got a first down on a fake punt. Burns took over this season for Danny Smith, who left the Redskins for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason. Smith steadied things last season after the Redskins had a punt blocked in each of their first two games.
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.
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